Category on the Rise: Orange Wine
Skin-fermented wines from around the world are beginning to gain popularity beyond major metropolitan areas, offering opportunity for retailers across the country
Over the past decade, orange wine has gone from niche category to spotlight stealer, embraced by wider consumer audiences and an alternative to perennial favorite rosé. Of course, the style – also called amber wine or skin-fermented white wine – isn’t exactly new on the scene; orange wine dates back to ancient times, and it’s been an insider go-to for years. But it is certainly on the rise, experiencing 55 percent share growth over the past year on Drizly.
“While orange wine remains a small piece of the total wine category, it is among the fastest-growing wine categories in the past year,” says Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights, adding the subcategory has grown from .11 percent of total wine share to .17 percent of total wine share in the past 12 months. “Orange wine has seen increased coverage in the media, driving consumer interest in the ‘new’ wine category,” explains Paquette. “Additionally, as happened with rosé, the striking color of this wine likely contributes to consumer interest.”
Because orange wines can be made from any white grape variety, their flavor profiles vary widely, offering consumers a vast range of styles – and appealing to a number of different types of consumers.
“Many wine drinkers want some body and structure to their wine but don’t necessarily want to drink red wine,” says Talitha Whidbee, the owner of Vine Wine in Brooklyn, which has a large inventory of orange wines. “Unfortunately so many white wines, especially from large commercial wineries, tend towards the light and more fruit- or acid-forward style, so wine drinkers are turning to orange wines to find something that has more weight and texture.”
Price – Not Place – Drives Orange Wine Sales
While most wine categories have regional leaders – French rosé or Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, for example – popular orange wines on Drizly aren’t defined by their place of origin. Rather, the category is defined by its diversity.
Spain remains the most popular country of origin for orange wines sold on Drizly, accounting for 34 percent of category share in the past 12 months and 26 percent of share during the prior 12 months. Orange wines from Austria, Italy, and the United States are also popular. Over the past 12 months, these four countries accounted for 88 percent of orange wines sold on Drizly.
“It is not so much countries or regions that are more popular for orange wine drinkers, it is what is available in the $25 price range,” says Whidbee, who regularly stocks a dozen or more orange wines. “We sell a lot of domestic and Italian orange wines, probably more than other places in the world, but that may be due to the fact that we have carried Italian orange wines for years and have always championed domestic producers. There are many incredible and easily accessible orange wines from America.”
Drizly data corroborates Whidbee’s findings. Across the platform, orange wines in the $20 to $30 range account for 55 percent of category sales, while those in the $10 to $20 range make up 43 percent of share.
Well-Known Orange Wines Brands Lead the Way
Consumers across the Drizly universe have shown dedication to the top brands within the category, with the top four most popular orange wine brands remaining steady even as the category grew dramatically. The top four brands over the past 12 months are Gulp Hablo Orange Wine, Biokult Naken Orange Wine, Field Recordings Skins Orange Wine, and Borgo Savaian Aransat Friuli-Venezia Giulia Orange Wine. From Spain, Austria, the United States, and Italy, respectively, these SKUs also align with overall regional popularity trends.
Other popular orange wines on Drizly include Meinklang ‘Weisser Mulatschak,’ Vichingo Costa Toscana Vermentino Macerato Sulle Bucce, Glinavos Paleokerisio Semi-Sparkling Orange Wine, Punctum 20.000 Leguas Orange Wine, Bosman Fides Grenache Blanc, and Gerard Bertrand Orange Gold Organic.
Orange Wines Are Escaping the Cities
To date, orange wine sales over-index on Drizly in major cities, specifically New York City and Los Angeles. While these cities tend to be bellwethers for large beverage trends such as ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails and rosé wine, orange wines are quickly becoming easier to find and enjoy outside of major cities as well.
“Though it remains harder to find than other wine categories, adding orange wine to your inventory is an opportunity to set yourself apart, particularly on online marketplaces like Drizly that can help attract new customers,” says Paquette.
According to Drizly data, most orange wines are sold alongside other wines, indicating this is a trend to watch among wine consumers rather than the drinking population at large – though that could change as more orange wines become available. “As inventory continues to grow and orange wine becomes available we expect more and more consumers to be interested in trying it,” says Paquette.
The Next Phase for Orange Wines
“I think that the category will expand greatly as more and more people start making orange wine,” says Whidbee, noting this poses both opportunity and challenge for consumers. “It’s exciting because we will start to see a larger variety of great and easy-drinking orange wine, but it also means that there will be more commercially made wines in this category that may include additives to make them fit the category, as opposed to being made naturally.”
Drizly data is already indicating that new entrants to the market are becoming popular with consumers on the platform: The top five fastest-growing orange wines in 2023 to date include bottles from less-popular regions, and four of the five fastest-growing orange wines are from brands that didn’t previously make Drizly’s top 10. This year to date, the five fastest growing orange wine brands on Drizly are Chile’s Echeverria, Australia’s Unico Zelo, Oregon’s Swick Wines, Spain’s Cellers de Can Suriol, and France’s Gerard Bertrand.
Based on this data, retailers could consider stocking orange wines from a range of places to capitalize on this trend. However, despite consumers’ continued interest in alternative formats in other categories like spirits and RTD cocktails, popular orange wines are overwhelmingly purchased in traditional formats, rather than in formats like cans.
“You should absolutely be stocking orange wine,” advises Whidbee. “There are both many great orange wines made in a classic style that are delicious and historically a part of the wine conversation, as well as new fun and easy drinking orange wines that are delicious and deserve a seat at the wine table.”